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In Memoriam: Richard L. Schneider

In Memoriam: Richard L. Schneider

March 5, 1936 — January 31, 1997

by Jeffrey R. Elliott

Originally published in American Lutherie #49, 1997 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Five, 2008


I first met Richard in 1964 while accompanying a long-time friend on a chance visit to his Detroit workshop. The three of us spent an enjoyable afternoon taking turns playing his guitars, and I fondly remember Richard’s Mexican folk songs. That afternoon changed my life. My friend left knowing he would have a new guitar, and I left knowing I had to make them.

Fate smiled and eventually Richard accepted me as an apprentice, fulfilling my dreams. Many months later Richard began my friend’s guitar. One day Richard asked if I’d like to work on it. I was surprised and delighted with the prospect of contributing to the realization of my friend’s instrument. This thoughtful gesture is typical of the generosity, trust, consideration, and a sense of the poetic that was Richard’s.

Photo by Ivan-Roger Sita.

I was the first of many who Richard taught over his thirty-five years of guitar making. He was a great teacher, and his enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring. His work exemplified his standard of fine craft and aesthetic harmony combined with imagination and the eternal search for the ideal sound. He was one of the most innovative people I have ever known, and his contribution to guitar making will continue to influence generation after generation of luthiers.

Via con Dios, Richard, you will be missed.